Ex-Bear Tony Parrish heads to UFL for another shot at NFL

SHARE Ex-Bear Tony Parrish heads to UFL for another shot at NFL
SHARE Ex-Bear Tony Parrish heads to UFL for another shot at NFL

The Bears seem pretty content right now with their pairing of Kevin Payne and rookie Al Afalava at safety but there is an ex-Bear out there interested in helping. Tony Parrish signed a contract with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League and is trying to resurrect his career at 33 and after sitting out the last two seasons.

“I want people to notice me,” Parrish said. “I’m playing to get back in the NFL. I’m playing for the love of the game.”

It’s certainly not for money. Parrish will make $35,000 in the fledgling UFL, which opens training camps next week. He left the Bears after the 2001 season and went on to become an Pro Bowl all-pro performer in San Francisco. He broke his ankle and fibula playing vs. the Bears in 2005 and wasn’t the same the next season when he split time between the Niners and Dallas Cowboys.

“I’ve been really ready for more than a year now,” he said. “I wasn’t the same after the broken leg but I’m back now. I still haven’t quenched my thirst for football.”

The Bears had 11 starters headed to some form of free agency–unrestricted or restricted–when general manager Jerry Angelo was hired in June 2001. He literally had a few months to construct a plan for the future and one of the decisions made was to let Parrish leave as a UFA. The Bears had Mike Brown in his second season and believed him to be a building block for the future at the position, but while they were paired together, they were outstanding.

Agent Joel Segal landed Parrish a $12 million, five-year contract to sign with San Francisco in 2002. It was near top money at the time, and Parrish flourished there, making a Pro Bowl as he proved to have better coverage skills than anyone anticipated. Parrish cashed in but it’s not money he’s after, he wants to return to the game.

“I made the decision to go to the UFL a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “I contacted the league and went out there and spoke to Jim Fassel [coach of the Las Vegas team]. I’ve had workouts for some NFL teams [since 2006] but they just haven’t pulled the trigger for various reasons, including my salary minimums. I still want to play some ball in the NFL and I am willing to do whatever it takes to do that. Here I am, I’m waiting for my opportunity.”

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